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Thursday, 17 August 1972
Page: 156

Senator BISHOP (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. I ask the Minister: Did he state in answer to my question yesterday that he considered that the current unemployment benefits were satisfactory? Did the Minister state also in relation to the percentage of unemployment in Australia that it was not a serious position compared with that in other countries? I ask the Minister whether he recalls that the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, on 18th May 1972, as reported in Hansard said:

Even allowing that the figure of 90,000 persons unemployed is intermittent, I believe that in the foreseeable future it will be significantly reduced.

Senator WRIGHT - I regret to say that even before Senator Bishop engaged in his argument with Senator Gair I had difficulty hearing him. However, I understood him to ask whether I said yesterday that I regarded the amount of unemployment benefits as satisfactory. I say they are very generous. As for his argument based on what Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson said about the unemployment situation at a particular time, all I wish to say is that that record was factual at the time and, as the Budget speech has taken into account, there has been a deterioration in the situation to the extent that the latest registration figures show, I think, that the actual figure is 112,000 which is seasonally adjusted to the equivalent of 99,000. That we do not regard as satisfactory. Rather, we regard it with such concern that important Budget measures have been formulated. With a knowledge of its responsibilities to redeem that situation great financial obligations have been taken by this Government for a continuing period ahead. But as I said yesterday, the Australian unemployment position is immeasurably better than the position in the United Kingdom or the United States.

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